Jonathan Chait

I was bullish on Michelle Bachmann's chances to make a splash in the race, and possibly even win, back when she was considered a Herman Cain-esque oddball candidate, because there's a large Republican constituency for a candidate frothing with rage against President Obama. But PPP's news Iowa poll shows Bachmann losing altitude rapidly.

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Greg Sargent wants to know more about Rick Perry's hatred for the 16th Amendment, which allows the federal income tax: In [his book], Perry declares that the 16th Amendment represents “the great milestone on the road to serfdom” because it represented “the birth of wealth redistribution in the United States.” Perry clearly states that “we should restrict the unlimited source of revenue that the federal government has used to grow beyond its constitutionally prescribed powers.” How?

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Last week, Rick Perry described the national debt as a "big black cloud that hangs over America." MSNBC host Ed Schultz bizarrely characterized this as a racist metaphor for President Obama.

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The Weekly Standard's editorial moves beyond its familiar ritual of predicting victory and begins simply assuming it as settled fact: In 2013, we’ll need action on the order of 1933 or 1981. Hoover, Carter, and Obama will go down in the history books as failed one-term presidents. Will Obama’s Republican successor be remembered as acting on the scale of FDR and Reagan? As is always the case with Kristol, you have to examine anything he writes with the question in mind, what political end is he trying to achieve here?

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National Review's Kevin Williamson argues that nobody should care what Rick Perry or any other elected official thinks about science: Why would anybody ask a politician about his views on a scientific question? Nobody ever asks what Sarah Palin thinks about dark matter, or what John Boehner thinks about quantum entanglement.

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&c

Joe Biden and a Mongolian wrestler. Ryan Gosling breaks up a fight. All the different theories for what’s wrong with the economy. “Leading from behind” to victory.  Everything's coming up Milhouse for Bernard-Henri Lévy. 

Reason editor Matt Welch warns of a "success curse" in foreign policy: Today's Team Blue dethroning of a tinpot dictator lowers the bar for tomorrow's Team Red assault on Iran, which of course will be confirmation that when it comes to the Constitution, President Perry (should he wrest the nomination from the more deserving Texan) is worse than Nixon and Hitler combined. Team Blue will once again regain the White House on an "anti-dumb war" campaign; a scattering of Republicans will then exhume their deference to the War Powers Act, and the U.S.

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A few months ago, the Weekly Standard devoted a cover to portraying President Obama as a weak-kneed appeasenik. Unfortunately, the cover came out just as Obama announced the killing of Osama bin Laden. So, a few months later, it seemed like it was safe to go back in the water, with this offering by former Bush administration Minister of Propaganda Pete Wehner: The president’s foreign policy has been characterized by strained relations with our allies and weakness toward our enemies. He’s shown indifference to human rights and an eagerness to cede American sovereignty to international bodies.

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Last week I argued that Texas really has had a pretty impressive economic performance under Rick Perry, but there's just no evidence that his story of why that happened is true: Perry's right-wing policy cocktail closely resembles conservative governance in other Republican-run states. And yet we don't see a general trend of extraordinary job growth in states with low taxes, pro-business regulation, and so on. Ross Douthat's column today makes essentially the same argument: When Perry became governor, taxes were already low, regulations were light, and test scores were on their way up.

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A week ago, the New York Times reported that the Obama administration was divided over its strategy between advisers who wanted to emphasize accomplishments and those who wanted to emphasize pragmatic accomplishments and those who wanted to confront Congressional Republicans: Mr. Obama’s senior adviser, David Plouffe, and his chief of staff, William M. Daley, want him to maintain a pragmatic strategy of appealing to independent voters by advocating ideas that can pass Congress, even if they may not have much economic impact.

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